For a few hours on Saturday, March 1, 100 red quilts covered in words lay over the west lawn of the US Capitol. Together, the bright squares formed the first public display of a project called The Monument Quilt, a crowd-sourced story collection and art project about sexual violence.
“I will read, believe and be transformed by every story here,” one anonymous visitor wrote on a blank swatch of fabric. “I so badly needed an ally to be there for me when I came forward with my own story.”
We all know Rosa Parks, but she wasn't the first to refuse to give up her seat on the bus. Democracy Now interviews Claudette Colvin, who was just 15 when she was arrested for doing the same. [Democracy Now, NewBlackMan (in Exile)]
Full disclosure: I have had misgivings about Slutwalk from day one. "Slut" has never been a term used against me. Though the idea of reclaiming the word seems to resonate with many young, white heterosexual women, it is not clear to me that it's something that can unify all women. It felt alienating and exclusionary to me from the start.
In the past year, rapes in the city of Dallas have increased 25.3%. Seriously. Such a huge increase of reported rapes would be shocking anywhere, but in a city where crime of all sorts is down 6.3%, a 25.3% jump in rape is astounding. At a Public Safety Committee meeting on Monday, though, Police Chief David Brown came up with a brilliant solution to decrease the number of rapes in the city. Not really though.
Natural disasters are gendered, with women facing aid discrepancies at every step of the recovery process. Particularly in areas that are already impoverished, there are simply fewer opportunities to rebuild after a disaster. If women are already largely shut out of the more lucrative jobs, this continues the cycle of poverty. Women are often the ones overburdened with domestic responsibilities and largely responsible for caring for children and the elderly, which is also exacerbated by catastrophe. Often overlooked are reports of sexual violence following a disaster, but much like rape and sexual torture are weapons of war, they are also employed in the aftermath of disasters, connected with looting and other violent crime that rises during such unrest.
Many of you have heard of Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani woman who was gang raped in 2002 as revenge for an honor crime, an act that was authorized by her village elders. Mukhtar spoke out about the crime and prosecuted her attackers - and won. That is, until an appeals court overturned the convictions. Mukhtar has been waging a legal battle in Pakistan in the years since, and, as a result, her safety has been constantly in jeopardy. Despite that, she started the Mukhtar Mai Women's Welfare Organization to help support and education Pakistani women and girls, and has been an outspoken advocate for women's rights.
Her story was included in the 2006 documentary Land, Gold and Women. Now her story will be the subject of a feature film, too. However, she still hasn't gotten justice in her legal battle.
More info on the film and a call to action after the jump...